Biking in Romania: Bai Mountains
Bai Mountains is one of the most visible mountain ranges in Romania, being just across the road that connects Bucharest to Brașov. Unfortunately, most people don`t even know of their existence, as on the opposite side lies a more spectacular mountain range, Bucegi Mountains, which draws everyone`s attention. Despite this, the Bai Mountains` flat terrain with no forests makes them perfect for biking and for sightseeing.
Bai Mountains are part of the Carpathian garden, being located just across Bucegi Mountains, the only thing that separates them is the Prahova Valley. They are not very high, the altitudes ranging between 1200 – 1800 m, having a much flatter terrain than Bucegi. They can be entirely travelled from North to South using the same road that connects all the peaks using the same contour. This road can be reached in two ways: either by using the cable car from Azuga or using a forest road from Bușteni. We chosed the first option. Considering that you can reach the top using the cable car, the rest of the track is not very demanding. Once up, the level differences don`t vary too much, but the road is full of rocks which makes it a bit difficult.
The track starts from Azuga, travels the whole Bai ridge, passes through Secăria and finishes in Comarnic. The advantage of this track is that it is one day track only, if you come from Bucharest, so you don`t need any accommodation. I highly recommend you to take the train, unless you want to cycle uphill from Comarnic back to Azuga to reach the car. 🙂
Azuga – Azuga Cable Car ( transl. Telegondola Azuga ) – Bai Mountains` ridge – Secăria – Road 101S – Comarnic
Total length: 36 km
Time: 5-6 hrs
Equipment: helmet, gloves, rain wear, first layer, wind-stopper, spare wheel room + bike pump, ultrasound device against aggressive dogs, some high energy food, enough water
Detailed map here.
There are trains from Bucharest to Azuga almost every hour but for this trip we took the 7 a.m InterRegio train. There was another cheap train which leaves at 6:20 a.m but it also takes longer to get to the destination. This train schedule was for 2013 so, for more updated information you can check here.
Once you get to Azuga, you have to go to the Azuga cable car which is situated just at the base of Sorica ski slope. The bikes fit perfectly into the cable car and the whole ride won`t take longer than 10 minutes. One way ticket is about 20 lei.
The actual track starts just behind the building of the cable car. There is a rocky road, just on the ridge of the mountains, which takes straight to Secăria. The road is wide enough and pretty easy to find, so there are remote chances to get lost here.
Except for a few steep slopes, the track on the ridge of the mountains is quite flat, but the rocky terrain makes it quite demanding. A quite big problem is represented by the sheepfolds and the dogs that protect them. We have encountered many of them in our way and most of the dogs were very protective.. and aggressive at the same time! Most of the times the shepherds protected us but this is not necessarily a rule. We didn`t have any ultrasounds device so we tried to run away but this can be very dangerous as the dogs are 1 meter tall and run much faster than we do. Avoid the sheepfolds at all times! Don`t get too scared so that you won`t be willing to go on this track, though. 🙂 The road is quite populated by tourists and local people, so if you take all the protective measures, you should be fine.
The lack of forests offers an amazing 360 degrees view and if you are lucky enough to get high visibility, you will have the chance to see Bucegi Mountains and Prahova Valley on the right hand side and Neamț Mountains with Doftana Valley on the left hand side.
The closer we get to Secăria, the more winding and rocky becomes the track. Just before Secăria there are many roads and cross-roads but most of them reach Secăria sooner or later.
From Secăria village center, turn right towards Comarnic. Here`s the last challenging slope up, but on pavement this time. What a pleasant feeling of cycling on a paved road after 20 km of rocky roads! 🙂
Following this last up slope is a continuous valley up to Comarnic. From Comarnic Railway Station you can take the train back to Bucharest. Have fun!